Les Misérables


Vol. 4 Books 1 to 9

Summary: Volume 4/ Book 1

The narrator again turns his attention away from the main plot of the novel in order to focus on the historical context in which these events take place. He provides a lengthy explanation of France’s 1830 July Revolution, beginning with the political climate of France after the British victory at Waterloo in 1815. Following Napoleon’s defeat, the monarchy is reestablished under the rules of the Bourbon kings Louis XVIII and Charles X, successively. This fifteen-year period is known as the Restoration, and is characterized by a longing for peace and a general exhaustion on the part of the French people. The Bourbons initially grant the people the rights they had earned during the Revolution of 1789, but by 1830 Charles X is attempting to revoke these rights. The people do not stand for it, and the result is the July Revolution of 1830.

The Bourbons are overthrown, but the monarchy survives. The new king, Louis-Philippe, is more liberal in his views than were the Bourbons and had sided with the people rather than the aristocracy during the French Revolution. However, the existence of a monarchy at all continues to be unacceptable to radical French republicans, such as Marius’s old friends from the ABC. Meanwhile, France abounds with socialist thinkers opposed to the concept of being ruled by the wealthy class. The poor and working classes are openly dissatisfied; revolution is brewing on a wide scale. By April of 1832, the Faubourg Saint Antoine district of Paris is a hotbed of political unrest, with militant revolutionaries preparing for an insurrection.

Summary: Volume 4/ Book 2

The narration returns to Marius, who has left his room at the Gorbeau House and moved in with Courfeyrac. Once a week, he anonymously sends five francs to Thenardier in jail, out of a desire to fulfill his father’s request. With no idea how to find Cosette and no clue as to her real identity, Marius falls into a depression. He is constantly tormented by the mystery of the girl and...

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